Saturday, April 04, 2009

Indonesia's Islamic forces full of hate, former president Abdurrahman Wahid says

Islamic extremists have infiltrated deep into Indonesia's government, businesses, schools and religious bodies, and are using cunning new tactics to seize control of mosques and preach radicalism, former president Abdurrahman Wahid has written in a new book. Mr Wahid, who was president of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001, said hardliners were transforming Indonesia's traditionally moderate brand of Islam into one that is "aggressive, furious, intolerant and full of hate".

Writing in The Illusion of an Islamic State, Mr Wahid said the extremists were systematically infiltrating Indonesian institutions in order to remake Indonesian society "in their own harsh and rigid likeness". Mr Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, said the hardliners were strongly influenced by transnational Islamic movements from the Middle East, such as Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood, and many are financed by massive amounts of Wahhabi petro-dollars.

The 68-year-old wrote that the hardliners have penetrated to the heart of Indonesia's Government, and warned of opportunistic politicians who work with extremist political parties and groups. "They have joined the extremists in driving our nation towards a deep chasm, which threatens destruction and national disintegration," he wrote.

The book is based on more than two years of research by the LibForAll Foundation, a non-government organisation set up to promote religious tolerance and discredit extremism.

The Indonesian Council of Religious Scholars had largely fallen into the grip of radicals and is now dictating to - and in many ways controlling - the country's government, he wrote. As Mr Wahid noted in the introduction, researchers for the book uncovered evidence of several cunning schemes extremists use to seize control of mosques. Under one scheme, a group of youths offer a mosque a free cleaning service. Actually "extremist agents", the cleaners aim to impress a mosque's management with their piety, and eventually gain a spot on the mosque's board. Once on the board, they consolidate their power, stack it with other radicals and eventually come to control who can serve as imam, deliver sermons or give religious education.

The groups were also involved in strenuous efforts to seize control of Indonesia's mainstream Islamic organisations, particularly Muhammadiyah and the Nahdatul Ulama, in order to use them as vehicles to spread extremism, Mr Wahid said.

About 90 per cent of Indonesia's 240 million people are Muslims. Mr Wahid, Indonesia's fourth president, was kicked out of office and impeached in 2001 amid accusations of incompetence and corruption. [That last sentence is misleading. Allegations are cheap. In fact, he was too tolerant for the Jakarta establishment so they got rid of him. He is a very devout and sincere man]



The folly of estate taxes

In Australia, where I live, all estate taxes were abolished long ago

President Barack Obama has proposed prolonging the federal estate tax rather than ending it in 2010, as is scheduled under current law. The president's plan would extend this year's $3.5 million exemption level and the 45% top rate. But will this really help America recover from recession and reduce our growing deficits? In order to assess the pros and cons of the estate tax, we should focus on its impact on those who bequeath wealth, not on those who receive wealth.

Advocates of the estate tax argue that such a tax will reduce the concentrations of wealth in a few families, but there is little evidence to suggest that the estate tax has much, if any, impact on the distribution of wealth. To see the silliness of using the estate tax as a tool to redistribute wealth, realize that those who die and leave estates would be taxed just as much if they bequeathed their money to poor people as they would if they left their money to rich people. If the objective were to redistribute, surely, an inheritance tax (a tax on the recipients) would make far more sense than an estate tax.

Indeed, from a societal standpoint, inheritance is an unmitigated good. Passing on to successive generations greater health, wealth and wisdom is what society in general, and America specifically, is all about. Imagine what America would look like today if our forefathers had been selfish and had left us nothing. We have all benefited greatly from a history of intergenerational American generosity. But just being an American is as much an accident of birth as being the child of wealthy parents. If you are an American, it's likely because ancestors of yours chose to become Americans and also chose to have children.

In its most basic form, it's about as silly an idea as can be imagined that America in the aggregate can increase the standards of living of future generations by taxing individual Americans for passing on higher standards of living to future generations of Americans of their choice. Clearly, taxing estates at death will induce people who wish to leave estates to future generations to leave smaller estates and to find ways to avoid estate taxes. On a conceptual level, it makes no sense to tax estates at death.

Study after study finds that the estate tax significantly reduces the size of estates and, as an added consequence, reduces the nation's capital stock and income. This common sense finding is documented ad nauseam in the 2006 U.S. Joint Economic Committee Report on the Costs and Consequences of the Federal Estate Tax. The Joint Economic Committee estimates that the estate tax has reduced the capital stock by approximately $850 billion because it reduces incentives to save and invest, has excessively high compliance costs, and results in significant economic inefficiencies.

Today in America you can take your after-tax income and go to Las Vegas and carouse, gamble, drink and smoke, and as far as our government is concerned that's just fine. But if you take that same after-tax income and leave it to your children and grandchildren, the government will tax that after-tax income one additional time at rates up to 55%. I especially like an oft-quoted line from Joseph Stiglitz and David L. Bevan, who wrote in the Greek Economic Review, "Of course, prohibitively high inheritance tax rates generate no revenue; they simply force the individual to consume his income during his lifetime." Hurray for Vegas.

If you're rich enough, however, you can hire professionals who can, for a price, show you how to avoid estate taxes. Many of the very largest estates are so tax-sheltered that the inheritances go to their beneficiaries having paid little or no taxes at all. And all the costs associated with these tax shelters and tax avoidance schemes are pure wastes for the country as a whole and exist solely to circumvent the estate tax. The estate tax in and of itself causes people to waste resources.

Again, a number of studies suggest that the costs of sheltering estates from the tax man actually are about as high as the total tax revenues collected from the estate tax. And these estimates don't even take into account lost output, employment and production resulting from perverse incentives. This makes the estate tax one of the least efficient taxes. And yet for all the hardship and expense associated with the estate tax, the total monies collected in any one year account for only about 1% of federal tax receipts.

It is important to realize that less than half of the estates that must go through the burden of complying with the paperwork and reporting requirements of the tax actually pay even a nickel of the tax. And the largest estates that actually do pay taxes generally pay lower marginal tax rates than smaller estates because of tax shelters. The inmates really are running the asylum.

In 1982, Californians overwhelmingly voted to eliminate the state's estate tax. It seems that even in the highest taxed state in the nation there are some taxes voters cannot abide. It shouldn't surprise anyone that ultra-wealthy liberal Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, supporter of the estate tax and lifetime resident of Ohio, where there is a state estate tax, chose to die as a resident of Florida, where there is no state estate tax. Differential state estate-tax rates incentivize people to move from state to state. Global estate tax rates do the same thing, only the moves are from country to country. In 2005 the U.S., at a 47% marginal tax rate, had the third highest estate tax rate of the 50 countries covered in a 2005 report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, LLP. A full 26 countries had no "Inheritance/Death" tax rate at all.

In the summary of its 2006 report, the Joint Economic Committee wrote, "The detrimental effects of the estate tax are grossly disproportionate to the modest amount federal revenues it raises (if it raises any net revenue at all)." Even economists in favor of the estate tax concede that its current structure does not work. Henry Aaron and Alicia Munnell concluded, "In short, the estate and gift taxes in the United States have failed to achieve their intended purposes. They raise little revenue. They impose large excess burdens. They are unfair."

For all of these reasons, the estate tax needs to go, along with the step-up basis at death of capital gains (which values an asset not at the purchase price but at the price at the buyer's death). On purely a static basis, the Joint Tax Committee estimates that over the period 2011 through 2015, the static revenue losses from eliminating the estate tax would be $281 billion, while the additional capital gains tax receipts from repeal of the step-up basis would be $293 billion.




CO: Jury awards $1 to corrupt Ward Churchill: “A jury Thursday found that former college professor Ward Churchill, who referred to victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks as ‘little Eichmanns’ in an essay, was wrongfully terminated by the University of Colorado, according to a court official. But the jury, which deliberated for a day and a half after a trial that began March 9, awarded Churchill only $1, the minimum they could award while still finding in Churchill’s favor, according to Robert McCallum, pubic information officer for Colorado’s 2nd Judicial District Court. … Churchill argued during the trial that he was fired from his tenured position for expressing politically unpopular, but constitutionally protected, views. The university argued in the trial that he was not fired for his political views but rather for sloppy academic work.”

The mark-to-market relief rally: “The events leading to the Dow’s climbing over 8000 today can be properly called the Mark-to-Market Relief Rally. More than any expected action of the bureaucrats and politicians at the G20, the decision today of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to relax strict application of mark-to-market accounting mandates, urged on by members of Congress of both parties, it what’s giving investors something to cheer for.”

Obama: The hollow man: “Normally, I try not to think too much about presidents. The mainstream media focus excessively on them, cheapening the quality of political discourse. As a result, American citizens who are inclined to talk about politics regurgitate pointless trivia about the White House occupant and staff — things they’ve heard on National Public Radio or seen on TV. But we have a new occupant in the White House, one whom the popular media laud as a visionary and transformative figure. To anyone who loves liberty, this overwrought praise is by itself a cause for skepticism. And skepticism is surely warranted, on many grounds.”

A caricature of a riot: “Yesterday’s anti-capitalist protest in London was a half-hearted ritual of pretend-rage and pseudo-concern. ‘Concerned of Tunbridge Wells’ was elbowed aside by ‘Angry of Brighton’ in a shallow display of second-hand militancy. What was really striking about the G20-related demonstrations against ‘capitalism and climate chaos’ — which took place outside the Bank of England and elsewhere in London — was the extent to which the opportunistic coalition of protesting moral crusaders represented a going-through-the-motions activism; they weren’t so much representing a cause as searching for one. Predictably, the authorities faithfully played their part in this melodrama.”

Obama’s losing bet on Detroit : “If you had bought $1,000 worth of General Motors stock in 2000, your holdings would now be worth less than $40, for a loss of 96 percent. You could have made worse investments in that period — with Bernard Madoff, for one — but not many. So anyone looking to participate in a viable business would look a lot of other places before they would look there. But the United States government thinks GM might just be a really smart place to put its money.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, April 03, 2009

G-20: Much Talk, Thankfully Little Action

The likelihood that this meeting will kick-start a recovery from the global economic downturn is about as high as your winning the jackpot with the next lottery ticket you buy. At the prior G-20 meeting in November all parties solemnly proclaimed their devotion to free trade and opposition to protectionist measures in the midst of recession. Since then, 17 of the 20 countries, including the United States, have imposed recovery-killing protectionist measures.

The world would be better off if the two major initiatives being pushed at this meeting were similarly ignored. The U.S. and Great Britain will try to persuade other countries to commit to the kind of large-scale domestic "stimulus" spending they have instituted. Meanwhile the continental European countries will try to persuade the U.S. to regulate its financial institutions more tightly, emulating the strict European regulation that failed to stave off imprudent exotic investments and a financial crisis there.

France, Germany, Japan and other countries are rightfully leery of too much deficit spending, convinced that it won't end the recession and concerned about subsequent inflation. Stricter U.S. regulation will be designed to prevent the previous round of excesses while failing to anticipate problems that have not yet materialized, accomplishing little at great cost.

All in all, then, the best news out of London would not be announcements of great decisions agreed upon, but flowery statements about "friendly discussions" and "frank exchanges," which when decoded translate to "we did nothing much."



G20 summit: Leaders target bankers

Totally trivial amid the present financial meltdown but that seems to be all that the blowhards have been able to agree on. Laughable, really

World leaders will agree unprecedented global restrictions on pay and bonuses for bankers at the G20 summit in London. In future, bankers will be prevented from receiving multi-million pound cash bonuses for speculating on the stock market. Their remuneration will instead be based on the risks they take over the long term. Bankers deemed to be making risky investment decisions will only be paid in shares that can be cashed in after several years.

The multi-million-pound bonuses paid to bankers have been blamed for encouraging them to take the "reckless" decisions that triggered the global financial crisis.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the remuneration deal was thrashed out over the past few days following intensive diplomatic efforts by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. The measure did not appear in a draft communiqué that was leaked at the weekend. The European leaders were understood to have pushed for an exact monetary limit on banking pay but were prepared to sign up to the new, strongly-worded agreement.

Regulators in each of the G20 countries will impose the new restrictions, which cover both private banks and those owned both wholly and partially by the state. The agreement will be the most eye-catching part of the communique, which is expected to be released by G20 leaders at the summit in London's Docklands on Thursday.



Good start for Netanyahu

By Ted Belman

The Netanyahu government is looking good to me. First, Netanyahu studiously avoided giving anything away upfront to the consternation of the EU and Livni. He offered negotiations on “three parallel tracks, economic, security and diplomatic” with the Palestinian Authority. As the NYT put it Netanyahu Offers Conciliation, but Not Concessions. His sole position on the peace process was that he would abide by all signed agreements.

As Min Lieberman made forcefully clear today, that didn’t include Annapolis. The International community was dying to make discussions under Annapolis binding on Israel but the Netanyahu government would have none of it and came out of the gate stressing this point.

In Understanding Netanyahu, I pointed out that Bibi intended to take Bush’s “vision speech” of 2002 as his point of reference. Even the Roadmap isn’t a signed agreement. Let’s look at it.
A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below.

The emphasis on a “negotiated settlement” precludes an imposed solution which is currently what the Obama Administration would like to do..
However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below.

There is no way progress can be made under this roadmap so long as there is violence and the Arabs will never give up on the use of violence.
A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

Notice he word “sovereign” is left out.

Netanyahu has taken the position that he will not consider making Palestine a sovereign state. He is offering “limited sovereignty” otherwise known as autonomy.
The settlement will resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit - calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbour living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement.



The Ted Stevens Scandal

After yesterday's dismissal, time to put rogue government prosecutors in the dock

Last fall, the senior Senator from Alaska was the poster octogenarian for political corruption. As of yesterday, Ted Stevens is merely another casualty of abusive prosecutors out to make a name for themselves.

The Justice Department yesterday moved to set aside an October conviction on ethics charges and forgo any future trials for Senator Stevens. He walks free, in other words, an innocent man. In the motion, Justice said it "recently discovered" that prosecutors withheld from the defense notes about an interview last April with the state's star witness, Bill Allen, that contradicted his subsequent testimony. Under the Brady Rule for evidence, Justice was obliged to share that with Senator Stevens's lawyers.

This was one of many prosecutorial missteps that came to light after Mr. Stevens was found guilty less than two weeks before Election Day. The Republican narrowly lost his bid for a seventh term. Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday promised a "thorough" probe into the conduct of prosecutors, which is the least the Department owes Mr. Stevens. The Obama Administration made the political calculation here to walk away from the original mistake made by Bush Justice rather than further embarrass the Department in post-trial hearings....

Evidence since the trial confirms suspicions that Justice lawyers were eager to bag such a prominent Senator before Election Day and before a new Administration brought in different political appointees. Perhaps they knew that a Republican Attorney General wouldn't dare overrule career lawyers prosecuting a GOP Senator, especially amid charges of "politicizing" Justice. They failed to share other documents with the defense and redacted exculpatory passages from witness transcripts. Chad Joy, an FBI "whistleblower," filed a complaint in early December, saying his partner, Mary Beth Kepner, had an unspecified "inappropriate relationship" with Mr. Allen, the prosecution witness.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in February called the behavior of Justice lawyers "outrageous," taking the rare step of holding them in contempt. The Department subsequently replaced the entire prosecutorial team, which had been led by the chief of its public integrity section, William Welch. The Justice internal probe will have a lot of ground to cover. The government's lawyers likely miscarried justice and should be held to account. All of this comes too late for Mr. Stevens's political career, but perhaps not for other politically tempting prosecutorial targets.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Our Problem is Immorality

by Walter E. Williams

Most of our nation's great problems, including our economic problems, have as their root decaying moral values. Whether we have the stomach to own up to it or not, we have become an immoral people left with little more than the pretense of morality. You say, "That's a pretty heavy charge, Williams. You'd better be prepared to back it up with evidence!" I'll try with a few questions for you to answer

Do you believe that it is moral and just for one person to be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another? And, if that person does not peaceably submit to being so used, do you believe that there should be the initiation of some kind of force against him? Neither question is complex and can be answered by either a yes or no. For me the answer is no to both questions but I bet that your average college professor, politician or minister would not give a simple yes or no response. They would be evasive and probably say that it all depends.

In thinking about questions of morality, my initial premise is that I am my private property and you are your private property. That's simple. What's complex is what percentage of me belongs to someone else. If we accept the idea of self-ownership, then certain acts are readily revealed as moral or immoral. Acts such as rape and murder are immoral because they violate one's private property rights. Theft of the physical things that we own, such as cars, jewelry and money, also violates our ownership rights.

The reason why your college professor, politician or minister cannot give a simple yes or no answer to the question of whether one person should be used to serve the purposes of another is because they are sly enough to know that either answer would be troublesome for their agenda. A yes answer would put them firmly in the position of supporting some of mankind's most horrible injustices such as slavery. After all, what is slavery but the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another? A no answer would put them on the spot as well because that would mean they would have to come out against taking the earnings of one American to give to another in the forms of farm and business handouts, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and thousands of similar programs that account for more than two-thirds of the federal budget. There is neither moral justification nor constitutional authority for what amounts to legalized theft. This is not an argument against paying taxes. We all have a moral obligation to pay our share of the constitutionally mandated and enumerated functions of the federal government.

Unfortunately, there is no way out of our immoral quagmire. The reason is that now that the U.S. Congress has established the principle that one American has a right to live at the expense of another American, it no longer pays to be moral. People who choose to be moral and refuse congressional handouts will find themselves losers. They'll be paying higher and higher taxes to support increasing numbers of those paying lower and lower taxes. As it stands now, close to 50 percent of income earners have no federal income tax liability and as such, what do they care about rising income taxes? In other words, once legalized theft begins, it becomes too costly to remain moral and self-sufficient. You might as well join in the looting, including the current looting in the name of stimulating the economy.

I am all too afraid that a historian, a hundred years from now, will footnote America as a historical curiosity where people once enjoyed private property rights and limited government but it all returned to mankind's normal state of affairs -- arbitrary abuse and control by the powerful elite.



The Rise of ObamaCorps

As ALG News mentioned last week, Rep. Virginia Foxx's (R-NC) amendment banning so-called “volunteer” organizations from using taxpayer funds to political purposes was stripped from its parent bill in the Senate, and replaced by an amendment allowing those organizations to skirt the law and continue lobbying. This week, the House will approve the Senate version, and President Obama will no doubt sign it shortly thereafter.

The battle to kill this bill in Congress is very likely over. Unless the Blue Dogs can muster enough support to halt Speaker Pelosi's march to madness, the American taxpayer will have to pony up another $5 billion for paid “volunteers” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) to politically-oriented organizations, the aims of many of which they will invariably oppose.

So when groups like ACORN and the DNC come knocking at the government's door for taxpayer funds and “volunteers,” the only thing standing in their way will be a hollow “promise” to not use them for partisan purposes. Of course, strictly speaking, they can get around that by using the volunteers and funding to create and manage the 'non-partisan' infrastructure, thus enabling them to shift more non-government dollars into lobbying and partisan efforts. It's called “fungibility.” And the “volunteer” front groups know how to use it well.

In essence, a new army has been created—a civilian army, ready to do the will of those organizations that have the political shrewdness to hire them. By creating this massive influx of government-managed, taxpayer-funded positions, President Obama will enable any group (with the proper connections, of course) to access this talent pool and influence Washington—all at taxpayer expense.



BrookesNews Update

Dark clouds hover over US economy: Let us be clear, the Dow rally is not squaring Obama's economic circle. His policy of big government is - at best - guaranteed to retard economic growth. The bigger the government the more resources it commands and the more resources it commands the fewer resources there are for capital accumulation. Then there is the Fed's utterly reckless monetary policy that has created an inflationary time bomb
The economy tanks as politicians look the wrong way: Rudd, like Obama, is following in the destructive footsteps of Gordon Brown. Australia, the UK and the US are being led by economic and historical illiterates, men who are criminally ignorant of how free economies functions and the forces that destabilise them. Unfortunately our media commentators are every bit as bad
Israeli soldiers speak out against the slanders : To combat the many slanders and libels that are being perpetrated against them Israeli soldiers are now speaking up. They are highlighting their personal accounts of the IDF's moral code and their own combat experiences. Needless to say, this would not be necessary were it not for a corrupt media
The Fed created the bubble and Greenspan should admit it: A bubble cannot emerge without a loosening of monetary policy, which means it cannot occur without money pumping by the Fed. Hence, what matters for the economic boom, i.e., the emergence of bubbles, is the creation of money out of thin air and not the level of long-term interest rates as Greenspan argued
Will the US economy be able to keep the military strong? :America cannot retain a superpower status without a strong manufacturing base. Unfortunately the Fed's monetary policy has weakened that base, causing some manufacturers to invest overseas rather than in the US. Obama's policies will only worsen the situation
Marx and Keynes and Obama's primitive economics :Obama's primitive economic program and the support it is getting from the media is frightening evidence of just how far economic thinking has regressed. That his economic nostrums had been refuted many times before has been all but forgotten. I fear the consequences of this historical amnesia will be severe
The left's romance with Castro's Cuba: Western leftist intellectuals were greatly inspired by the persecution of intellectuals in Cuba, just as the earlier generation had been by the persecution of intellectuals in Stalin's Soviet Union. Charmed by the notion of a society in which their own talent - as well as their entire being - would be extinguished, they continued the practice of labelling the totalitarian
The coming loss of American sovereignty :The new war on sovereignty started slowly but will be accelerated in the next four years and from all appearances may be a war our country will lose unless the public realizes Obama in just a socialist idealist and not a messiah but one who has been under the tutelage of socialist and mentors



Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will: "In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself."

Sell the Roads!: "Under President Obama's stimulus plan, the government will spend billions of your dollars building new roads and fixing old ones. They say they'll do it efficiently. I say, bull; government has never before been efficient. It isn't going to start now. Need proof? How about rush hour? Rush hours from hell are not natural phenomena. They're manmade -- more precisely, politician-made. But what if commuting didn't have to be a horrendous experience? What if, for example, someone wanted to add some lanes to a road or build an entirely new road? It's happening. Private road builders are doing it. They built a double-decker underground highway in Paris. A 45-minute trip now takes 10 minutes. Three hundred-fifty cameras watch for traffic delays or accidents. Once the camera detects a problem, a crew rushes to tow the obstacle away so traffic keeps moving. They did a similar thing in California, too, on Highway 91. Instead of building a brand-new road, a private developer added two lanes in the median strip of an existing highway. The beauty of it: Unlike government work, the private highway is all voluntary. No driver or taxpayer was forced to pay for the extra lanes. Drivers can choose to use them or not. Those who want to go faster have to pay a toll -- from a buck fifty to $9 -- depending on traffic. By paying you save time. And for some people, time is money."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Conscription Law AKA The GIVE ACT Passes Senate

And, sadly, it's not an April Fool's joke: The Hitler Youth comes to America. Joining the Hitler Youth was "voluntary' too. The speech restrictions are routine Leftism but will probably not get past SCOTUS

The GIVE ACT has been rubber stamped by the Senate making a domestic draft that legislates mandatory national service and creates an “army” of at least 7 million civilian enforcers. Imagine that, 7 million members of this civilian “army” equates to about one member for every 50 Americans, a similar figure to the number of East Germans who collaborated with the Stasi and informed on their own citizens during the cold war.

Paul Watson reports " In an interview with Ben Smith of the New York Daily News, Emanuel outlined the agenda for military-style training, essentially a domestic draft, aimed at preparing Americans for a chemical or biological terrorist attack.

Asked by Smith about the universal service plan and whether people would have to live in military barracks, Emanuel laughed before responding, “We’re going to have universal civil defense training, somewhere between the ages of 18 to 25 you will do three months of training….but there can be nothing wrong with all Americans having a joint similar experience of what we call civil defense training or civil service in service of the country, in preparation, which will give people a sense of what it means to be an American.”

“It will be a common experience and we will be prepared, God forbid, God forbid that there is a chemical hit, another terrorist act or natural disaster becoming more frequent - there’ll be a body of citizens who are ready and capable and trained - that’s all you have to think about,” said Emanuel before smugly declaring, “We’re all here for you OK? It’s a circle of love.”

As Gary Wood writes, “Those in support of this legislation will argue this amendment is limited in scope and is not meant to interfere with the rights of citizens to protest, petition, boycott, or strike in resistance to government proposed laws. However, the people associated through service under the GIVE Act are considered volunteers, still free citizens, yet it will be unlawful for them to take part in any protests against any legislation. This is as close to a sedition act, a violation of 1st Amendment rights, as has been proposed in recent history. A basic right as a part of our natural, inalienable rights, is to resist government. Our founders not only knew it was a right but it was a responsibility. This legislation begins to break that down significantly.”

Within this legislation it contains language that takes away the first amendment rights of the so-called "volunteers".

‘(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

‘(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

‘(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

‘(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

‘(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

‘(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.

‘(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

‘(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.




ND: As river rose, volunteers stepped up: "In Fargo, a city of 90,000, 80,000 volunteers showed up -- men, women, children. Everyone who could help appeared in defense of the city. 'You've got to try and stay positive,' said one volunteer. ... a statement was made here that may be useful beyond the Great Plains. After weeks of national stories about cheats and schemers, the people of faraway Fargo showed what a sense of community really means ... and the rewards that sacrificing for a cause greater than oneself may bring." [Note: And just imagine, they did it themselves with no gov't mandate, no gov't funding, no FEMA, no foulups]

Stupid regulators Force insurer out of Florida: "On January 27, State Farm Florida Insurance Company, the largest provider of homeowners insurance in the Sunshine State, gave formal notice to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) that it intends to withdraw completely from the state. This action will leave more than one million policyholders, including many in the riskiest areas, searching for coverage... In the notice, the company blames regulatory price controls for its decision, saying they have created an “unacceptable probability of impairment or insolvency.” The notice followed a decision by state insurance regulators denying State Farm’s request for a rate-increase. The request did not rely fully on the threat of another bad storm season. While a catastrophic storm would accelerate the company’s financial woes, a combination of increasing small claims, increasing reinsurance costs, and excessive mandatory discounts would lead State Farm Florida into bankruptcy as soon as 2011 without a hurricane making landfall. State Farm Florida’s decision to exit the market should send two very clear signals to Floridians—and residents of other states facing similar problems. First, it shows that the company was not earning adequate returns to continue writing insurance in Florida, much less price gouging to generate excessive profits. Second, it confirms that market forces set terms firms cannot ignore."

Iranian official: No dialogue until we build a bomb: "A high-level Iranian official said that Iran will not dialogue with the United States until Iran has a nuclear bomb. Remarks by the secretary general of Iranian Hezbollah were reported in Berlin from a March 26 symposium on "Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah: Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial." Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi reportedly told the Iranian state news agency Shabestan that Iran "will arrange contacts to America as soon as we build our own bomb." "If one is not allowed to build an atom bomb, then no contacts are allowed. And if there are to be contacts, then it will be necessary to build the atom bomb," Kharrazi said, according to a translation from the original Farsi, reported by Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a senior research fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy. Officially, the Iranian government dismissed the recent Persian New Year greeting and overture from President Obama, insisting that the United States has to be the first to change its approach.

Europe won’t blacklist Israeli airlines: "Israeli airlines will not be blacklisted in Europe. The European Aviation Safety Agency, which last month sent the Israel Civil Aviation Authority an e-mail warning that if its flight safety record did not improve it would blacklist the country's national airlines, announced March 26 that it would not downgrade the security ratings of El Al, Arkia, Israir and Sun d'Or. The decision means the airlines can continue to land at European airports. The Israeli authority also presented the European agency with a plan to be reinstated to the American category 1 safety rating. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Israel's air-safety system to a third-world level last December. The European warning came on the heels of the FAA's decision to downgrade. Meanwhile, Ben Gurion International Airport was named top Middle East airport for the second year in a row in an annual survey by the Geneva-based Airports Council International. The survey ranks airports based on more than 30 aspects of service voted on by travelers.

Murtha Award Sparks Vet Outrage: "In one of his last moves before leaving office March 13, then-Navy Secretary Donald Winter quietly awarded 19-term Democratic congressman John Murtha (Pa.) with the service's highest civilian honor. The award generated little publicity when it was given to Murtha in early March, but as news of the honor trickled out, some veterans groups ignited a firestorm of protest. The primary reason for their ire stems from the congressman's statements in May, 2006, that a squad of Marines who responded to an IED ambush and short firefight in Haditha, Iraq, rampaged through the village, murdering civilians "in cold blood." When the dust settled more than two years later, six of the eight Marines and Sailors accused of crimes in the Haditha incident had their cases dismissed, one was found not guilty and the last has been continued indefinitely. Murtha has refused to recant his accusations or apologize to the Marines he accused of war crimes".

Crazy: Gates sees sanctions as best bet on Iran: "The U.S. defense secretary said economic sanctions would be more successful than diplomacy in dealing with Iran. "I think frankly from my perspective, the opportunity for success is probably more in economic sanctions in both places than it is in diplomacy," said Robert Gates on the television program "Fox News Sunday," referring to both Iran and North Korea. "Diplomacy -- perhaps if there is enough economic pressure placed on Iran -- diplomacy can provide them an open door through which they can walk if they choose to change their policies, and so I think the two go hand in hand. But I think what gets them to the table is economic sanctions." Gates' remarks came a little more than a week after President Obama launched an effort to diplomatically engage Iran, sending a videotaped message to the Iranian people. The defense secretary also said on the program that Iran has "enough low-enriched uranium" to give it the capacity to make a weapon "should they enrich it more highly." But he said the United States does not believe that Iran has the capability yet.

US Army Confirms Israeli Nukes: "The Army has let slip one of the worst-kept secrets in the world -- that Israel has the bomb. Officially, the United States has a policy of "ambiguity" regarding Israel's nuclear capability. Essentially, it has played a game by which it neither acknowledges nor denies that Israel is a nuclear power. But a Defense Department study completed last year offers what may be the first time in a unclassified report that Israel is a nuclear power. On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east... Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published "The Samson Option," detailing Israel's strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened. Israel's nuclear arsenal has been estimated to range from 200 to 400 warheads."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BOOK REVIEW OF: "United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror" by Jamie Glazov

Reviewed by RALPH PETERS

If you've ever wondered at the delight with which academics excuse Islamist terrorists, or at the callousness with which radical feminists ignore the oppression of Muslim women, or at the gushing adulation the Left devoted to the last century's worst butchers, from Stalin to Saddam, "United In Hate' is the book for you.

Radical Leftists have been losing their war against human nature for a long time, but they continue to search desperately for a winning formula. After Stalin, Mao, Uncle Ho, Pol Pot and countless Third World thugs had let them down, they believed they'd found redemption at last on 9/11. Jamie Glazov, the editor of, describes the reaction of Leftist acquaintances to the fall of the Twin Towers: "Never had I seen them so happy, so hopeful and ready for another attempt at creating a glorious and revolutionary future. Without doubt, September 11 represented a personal vindication for them." Noam Chomsky agreed with Osama that we deserved our misery. Ward Churchill had finally met his love match. This rigorous, fight-back book dissects the Leftist identity in which personal dissatisfaction and social dysfunction are externalized as the fault of our wicked society an uncanny reflection of the Islamist platform that worldly evil flows from the US and Israel. Glazov is scathing on the inability of Islamists and Western fellow-travelers to form healthy male-female relationships: Sex may (or may not) be OK, but love between a man and a woman threatens the collective.

No matter whether the idealized system is a Communist utopia or an Islamist caliphate, the happy couple is a mortal threat. Worst of all, "The pursuit of happiness implies ... that the world can be accepted for what it is," Glazov argues, "and human beings can be accepted for what they are."

So the Leftist believer embarks upon "the desperate search for the feeling of power to help him counteract the powerlessness he feels in his own life." That could equally describe a suicide bomber. You and I may be too stupid to realize we're miserable or damned, but the American Left and the mullahs are going to perfect us for our own good. The horrific bloodshed along the way is the outcast's great revenge.

Whether analyzing Code Pink or "Code Sharia," the book's descriptions hit the target dead-center again and again: "Like Islamists, Leftists have a Manichean vision that rigidly distinguishes good from evil. They see themselves as personifications of the former and their opponents as personifications of the latter, who must be slated for ruthless elimination."

Welcome to the hellish alliance that encourages American college brats to root for Hamas and Hezbollah. Dead Jews? Today's Left has no more problem with the Holocaust than Stalin did or Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah does.

Fearlessly, Glazov rips into "the deep-rooted hatred and fear of female sexuality that permeates Islamist-Arabic culture." But he also unveils our pseudo-feminists who excuse the burqa, genital mutilation, honor killings and general savagery toward Middle-Eastern women, noting that the privileged Americans need to ignore the suffering of their distant sisters in order "to hold onto their self-created victim identity." If America isn't so bad, it spoils everything.

I'd quibble with a few propositions: I find all fanatics dangerous, Left or Right but no honest person could deny this book's validity and power. It's a serious work by a brave scholar. It's also fun to read (fun's another no-no to Islamists and the Left).




No bailout for America’s newspapers!: “I have never had anything but contempt for America’s ‘greatest’ newspapers. During my lifetime, a little over six decades, they have never been anything but contemptible. Everything that was foreseeably harmful to individual liberty — or later proven to be so — they have championed. Everything that would have been good for it, they have opposed.”

Obama: US prepared to pursue targets in Pakistan : “President Obama said Sunday that his administration remains prepared to order strikes against ‘high-value’ targets within Pakistan. Obama reiterated a previous assertion that the U.S. military would pursue extremists within Pakistan’s borders after consulting with the Pakistani government.”

Obama: won't speed up Iraq pull out: "President Barack Obama says he won't consider speeding up the troop pullout from Iraq even though security has improved and violence has decreased. "I think the plan that we put forward in Iraq is the right one" because it calls for "a very gradual withdrawal through the national elections in Iraq," he said in an interviewed aired Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." While he didn't dispute the notion of military progress, Obama said there's plenty to do on the political side to resolve differences between the various sectarian groups. Iraq's security forces also need to be trained, he added. "I'm confident that we're moving in the right direction. But Iraq is not yet completed. We still have a lot of work to do," the president said of the war that's winding down after six hard-fought years."

AIG — too big to succeed: “The phrase ‘too big to fail’ is too often used to describe why various companies should receive bailouts from the federal government. Some financial companies are allegedly too big to fail because if they do fail it would create a series of failures as those who do business with the failing companies would be hurt by the failure of the initial company. Some automobile companies are allegedly too big to fail because if they do fail then parts suppliers and dealerships would all fail as well. Perhaps it is time to introduce a new phrase into the national lexicon, ‘too big to succeed.’ A company is too big to succeed if it grows so big that it cannot make a profit anymore, and as a result it must fail.”

The litigation madness is spreading: “The LA Times reported The U.S. Department of Justice filed lawsuits against Union Pacific Railroad Company, seeking $37 million in damages for allegedly failing to prevent its rail cars from being used to smuggle drugs into the country. The federal government said its inspectors found more than two tons of marijuana and more than 100 kilograms of cocaine on company rail cars, many of which were listed as empty on manifests, the complaint alleges.”

Obama’s false choice: “Writing in the Chicago Tribune last week, President Obama fell back on one of his favorite rhetorical tics: ‘But I also know,’ he wrote, ‘that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.’ Really? For the moment, it’s a ‘false choice’ mainly in the sense that he’s not offering it: ‘a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism’ is not on the menu, which leaves ‘an oppressive government-run economy’ as pretty much the only game in town. How oppressive is yet to be determined: To be sure, the official position remains that only “the richest five percent” will have taxes increased. But you’ll be surprised at the percentage of Americans who wind up in the richest five percent.”

Barack Hussein Obama: Profile of a doctrinaire ideologue : “That Obama is a leftist is a statement to which few will take exception. Nor are there many willing to deny the radical nature of his leftist politics. But it appears that relatively few recognize that Obama’s politics is the product of years of reflection and, as such, possesses a self-consciousness that invests it with a rigor conspicuously absent from the political mental cast of most of his fellow Democrats. Far from being disposed to hear the call of compromise, Obama’s politics is determined to silence its voice altogether. This, of course, is not to suggest that Obama is or would be unwilling to make temporary concessions — but any such concessions are permissible if and only if they are deemed to stand a greater chance than not of advancing the ultimate ends of his robust and unabashedly leftist political vision. In other words, whereas the average left-wing Democrat is mostly concerned with achieving short-term strategic victories, Obama wouldn’t consider taking his eye off the prize of winning the war.”

How Britain gets people out of their cars: "Overcrowding will worsen on several of Britain's busiest rail lines because the Government has quietly cancelled plans for more than 300 additional carriages. Southern and South Eastern, two of the largest commuter franchises, are likely to bear the brunt. The Government will save about £70 million a year from the decision, which reverses a commitment in the rail White Paper published in July 2007. The network's most overcrowded trains have more than 70 people standing for every 100 sitting, according to Department for Transport figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. The 7.15am from Cambridge to King's Cross carries an average of 870 people but has only 494 seats. The 8.02am from Woking to Waterloo carries 865 and has 492 seats. Passenger groups criticised the White Paper for promising only 1,300 new carriages by 2014, an increase of about 13 per cent, despite forecasting a 22.5 per cent rise in rail journeys. They said that the extra carriages would fail to keep pace with demand, much less alleviate the high level of overcrowding."

UK: “How to break through police lines” : “G20 protesters are circulating detailed pamphlets advising people on how to win street battles against riot police and what to do if arrested. Thousands of people are expected to bring the City of London to a standstill on Wednesday and Thursday, as popular anger over government bailouts of the banking sector reaches fever pitch. The vast majority of protests are likely to be peaceful but the Metropolitan Police claims extremist and anarchist groups might resort to violence. The online pamphlets suggest certain groups are advising their followers on how to beat the police should things turn rough. One document, called ‘Guide to Public Order Situations,’ explains how to breach lines of riot police using a ’snow plough’ human formation; throw rape alarms to make it hard for the police to give orders; resist baton and horse charges using nets; and ‘de-arrest’ seized protesters.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama does NOT have America's best interests at heart. He has a typical Leftist hatred of the society he lives in

"By their fruit ye shall know them"

President Barack Obama has no intention of helping to grow the United States economy. On the contrary, he is doing everything a President can do to weaken it. I know that sounds harsh. Maybe it seems outrageously “partisan.” Maybe it just seems outrageous. But after roughly ten weeks, Obama has consistently proposed ideas and plans (and in one case signing legislation) that will weaken the U.S. economy, not strengthen it. To attempt to view this man through the lenses of American prosperity, and to evaluate him with the same assumptions with which the behavior of other modern-day Presidents has been evaluated - - that growing the U.S. economy is a good and noble and necessary thing - - simply makes no sense.

Yet to assess this very different President with a very different set of assumptions in mind - - that American prosperity itself is a problem to be remedied, or that the U.S. has become an economic superpower at the expense of other nations - - only then does his economic behavior appear rational. And it is now clear that President Obama’s objective is to weaken the U.S....

During his campaign, President Obama liked to reiterate that he was being advised on economics by investment guru Warren Buffett. Buffett now deems Obama’s so-called “economic stimulus bill” as largely a waste of taxpayer dollars, and has expressed alarm over the national debt that Obama’s further plans will create. With the majority of the "stimulus bill" devoted to social welfare projects- - "free" condoms, childcare , “cricket control,” tatoo removal, and so forth - - and most funding for infrastructure projects delayed until 2011 and beyond (closer to Obama's re-election race), it's difficult to argue with Buffett's assessment.

Obama repeatedly reminds Americans of the tragedy that he faces, having “inherited” a $1.3 trillion deficit from the former President, yet he spent more than half that amount with the so-called “stimulus” bill during his first six weeks as President, and has now proposed a federal budget that spends $3.6 trillion more. He campaigned on a promise to take money away from “rich” Americans and re-distribute it to people who he deemed were deserving of it, yet there is no more wealth in government coffers for President Obama to re-distribute. He is now proposing to spend the wealth of future generations of Americans - - wealth that has yet to be created - - while confidently asserting along the way that he is reducing the federal deficit, not expanding it.

If we are to take seriously the many promises that Obama made as a candidate, it is not far-fetched to think that his efforts to weaken the U.S. economy are quite intentional. For two years, Senator Obama campaigned across the country preaching the economics of “getting even” - - a "strategy" to make conditions more "fair" for the less fortunate by punishing successful individuals and organizations. By every indication, he is now applying that same ‘strategy” to the United States, as it relates to the rest of the world, making the world a more “fair” and “just” playing field by weakening the strongest player on the field. After a few short weeks, it is now apparent what President Obama is doing. Will the Democratic Congress allow the President to fulfill his dreams? [They hate America too]



Bush's 'folly' is ending in victory

by Jeff Jacoby

"MARKETS WITHOUT BOMBS. Hummers without guns. Ice cream after dark. Busy streets without fear." So began Terry McCarthy's report from Iraq for ABC's World News Sunday on March 15, one of a series the network aired last week as the war in Iraq reached its sixth anniversary.

A nationwide poll of Iraqis reveals that "60 percent expect things to get better next year -- almost three times as many as a year and a half ago," McCarthy continued. "Iraqis are slowly discovering they have a future. We flew south to Basra, where 94 percent say their lives are going well. Oil is plentiful here. So is money."

In another report two nights later, ABC's correspondent characterized the Iraqi capital as "a city reborn: speed, light, style -- this is Baghdad today. Where car bombs have given way to car racing. Where a once-looted museum has been restored and reopened. And where young women who were forced to cover their heads can again wear the clothes that they like." One such young woman is dental student Hiba al-Jassin, who fled Baghdad's horrific violence two years ago, but found the city transformed when she returned last fall. "I'm just optimistic," she told McCarthy. "I think we are on the right path."

ABC wasn't alone in conveying the latest glad tidings from Iraq.

"Iraq combat deaths at 6-year low" USA Today reported on its front page last Wednesday. The story noted that in the first two months of 2009, 15 US soldiers were killed in action -- one-fourth the number killed in the same period a year ago, and one-tenth the 2007 toll. The reduction in deaths reflects the reduction in violence, which has plummeted by 90 percent since former President Bush ordered General David Petraeus to implement a new counterinsurgency strategy -- the "surge" -- in early 2007. Even in northern Iraq, where some al-Qaeda terrorists are still active, attacks are down by 70 percent.

In the wake of improved security have come political reconciliation and compromise. Iraq's democratic government continues to mature, with ethnic and religious loyalties beginning to yield to broader political concerns.

The Washington Post reports that the country's foremost Shiite politician, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has formed an alliance with Saleh al-Mutlak, an outspoken Sunni leader. It is a development that suggests "the emergence of a new axis of power in Iraq centered on a strong central government and nationalism" -- a dramatic change from the sectarian passions that fueled so much bloody agony in 2006 and 2007. In the recent provincial elections, writes the Post's Anthony Shadid, Maliki's party won major gains, with the prime minister "forgoing the slogans of his Islamist past for a platform of law and order." Despite his erstwhile reputation as a Shiite hardliner, Maliki now echoes Mutlak's call for burying the hatchet with supporters of Saddam Hussein's overwhelmingly Sunni Baath Party.

Those elections were yet another blow to the conviction that constitutional democracy and Arab culture are incompatible. For the 440 seats to be filled, more than 14,000 candidates and some 400 political parties contended -- a level of democratic competition that leaves American elections in the dust. A Jeffersonian republic of yeoman smallholders Iraq will never be. But over the past six years it has been transformed from one of the most brutal tyrannies on earth to an example of democratic pluralism in the heart of the Arab world.

For a long time the foes of the Iraq war and the president who launched it insisted that none of this was possible -- that the war was lost, that there was no military solution to the sectarian slaughter, that the surge would only make the violence worse. Victory was not an option, the critics declared; the only option was to partition Iraq and get out. Time and again it was said that the war would forever be remembered as Bush's folly, if not indeed as the worst foreign policy mistake in US history.

Even now, with a stubbornness born of partisan hostility or political ideology, there are those who cannot bring themselves to utter the words "victory" and "Iraq" in the same sentence. But six years after the war began, it is ending in victory. As in every war, the price of that victory was higher than we would have wished. The price of defeat would have been far higher.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Justice Department to San Francisco Police: Shut Up!

Allegations that presidential pal Bill Ayers was involved in the murder of a San Francisco policeman appear to be running into something of a gag order from at the Department of Justice. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Justice Department and the San Francisco Police Department have contacted the San Francisco Police Officers Association and told them not to talk about the Ayers case.

Boy, that was fast!

Cliff Kincaid's March 12 National Press Club press conference apparently hit a nerve. As mentioned in the AT article of Wednesday, March 18, the Police Association had sent out a letter of support to Kincaid and his Campaign for Justice for Victims of Weather Underground Terrorism, observing:
There are irrefutable and compelling reasons to believe that Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, members of the terrorist group 'Weather Underground', are largely responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station and other police stations throughout the United States during their 'tour of terror' in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

And asking that:
...every possible effort be made to bring all evidence concerning this crime and all other crimes of urban terrorism perpetrated by the ‘Weather Underground' against the police officers of our great country to the forefront in a court of law.

According to the Chronicle:
Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes confirmed that his union got a call from federal investigators telling them they had an "active investigation and should not be commenting on the case."

Delagnes said the letter was meant only to show support for the family of the slain officer, Sgt. Brian McDonnell, and to help them "bring closure to the case."

Right. And what is the matter with that?

So why on earth would the Justice Department want them to keep their mouths shut? Exactly what did they say that would damage an "active investigation?" Are they claiming that no one knows the book is still open on that case? Are the statements above likely to compromise an "active investigation" if indeed it is truly active?

Mr. Holder, as Shakespeare said: "me thinks thou dost protest too much." So out with it! What, or who are you really trying to protect?

Why didn't the Justice Department contact Kincaid's group? After all, they have said this same exact thing. The Justice Department probably doesn't want them to get any more attention than they already have. Besides, the Obama Administration certainly doesn't try to muzzle free speech, do they?

So instead they attack the Police Officers Association, who bring solid, non-partisan credibility to this effort. And all the Association wants is to see this case solved.

Friends of the President or not, Mr. Holder, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are two career criminal psychopaths, who have cheerfully left a lifetime path of destruction in their wake.

You need to step up to the plate, Mr. Holder. All these Weather Underground cases, and the park station bombing especially, need to be solved. If the heat is too much, either get out of the fire or help solve the case.




Obama wants to expand spending on everything -- even defence: "Cindy Williams, a defense scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former assistant director of the Congressional Budget Office, points out that Obama wants to spend 2 percent more in the next fiscal year than President Bush allocated for this year, and 9 percent more than we spent last year. Bush also planned for the defense budget (apart from Iraq and Afghanistan) to shrink slightly each year starting in 2010. Obama's blueprint calls for the defense budget to remain about the same. "Spending will actually be higher under Obama's plan than under Bush's," says Williams.

Democrats despise the poor: "Democrats, and the progressive left in particular, exploit the poor, they use the poor, they write speeches about them, and manipulate their "unrepresented voices" in debates. But one thing is increasingly clear from the Obama administration and the popular left in America, they don't have any interest in helping them. It is easy to explain how this can be true from a macro-worldview position looking at the President's policies. The bailout, the stimulus, the omnibus, and the proposed budget all do nothing to assist a poor person in finding independence and they all aim to create an enslavement to entitlements that dehumanize the individual, create embarrassment for their family, and ultimately rob that person of one of the most cherished gifts God grants us--the satisfaction of personal achievement. But moving beyond Obama's budget policies, take a look at how the administration has teamed up to hurt the poor families of America with the program of "Cap and Trade." Essentially "Cap and Trade" is a punitive tax that in language would be levied against the largest production companies in our nation. But since no company in the history of mankind has ever absorbed a tax, the real persons being punished for their production means are the consumers of the goods that company produces. Customers who are in desperate need of what that company creates are the ones who have no choice, and are helpless in doing anything about it. The poor are impacted to a greater degree because of their own lack of capital to be able to fund entrepreneurial options to avoid such companies.

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The latest bit of bright-eyed optimism about IQ

There are always books and articles coming out that purport to show that IQ is unimportant, not hereditary and uniform across races. The research findings show the opposite but that offends against the "all men are equal" credo of the Left so the facts have to be got rid of somehow. Another such treatise has just arrived. A review of it (from the NYT!) is below. I have not read the book and nothing in the review encourages me to do so but I assume that some of my colleagues who specialize in IQ studies will read it and dissect it in due course. Meanwhile, I just offer a few comments (In italics) that occur to me. The book is INTELLIGENCE AND HOW TO GET IT. Why Schools and Culture Count by Richard E. Nisbett. The book is actually better than most in that it is largely research-based so concedes the two major facts that always stick in Leftist craws: That IQ is important and is largely hereditary.
Success in life depends on intelligence, which is measured by I.Q. tests. Intelligence is mostly a matter of heredity, as we know from studies of identical twins reared apart. Since I.Q. differences between individuals are mainly genetic, the same must be true for I.Q. differences between groups. So the I.Q. ranking of racial/ethnic groups — Ashkenazi Jews on top, followed by East Asians, whites in general, and then blacks — is fixed by nature, not culture. Social programs that seek to raise I.Q. are bound to be futile. Cognitive inequalities, being written in the genes, are here to stay, and so are the social inequalities that arise from them.

What I have just summarized, with only a hint of caricature, is the hereditarian view of intelligence. This is the view endorsed, for instance, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray in “The Bell Curve” (1994), and by Arthur R. Jensen in “The g Factor” (1998). Although hereditarianism has been widely denounced as racism wrapped in pseudoscience, these books drew on a large body of research and were carefully reasoned. Critics often found it easier to impugn the authors’ motives than to refute their conclusions.

Richard E. Nisbett, a prominent cognitive psychologist who teaches at the University of Michigan, doesn’t shirk the hard work. In “Intelligence and How to Get It,” he offers a meticulous and eye-opening critique of hereditarianism. True to its self-helplike title, the book does contain a few tips on how to boost your child’s I.Q. — like exercising during pregnancy (mothers who work out tend to have bigger babies who grow up smarter, possibly because of greater brain size) [More likely because they are middle class]. But its real value lies in Nisbett’s forceful marshaling of the evidence, much of it recent, favoring what he calls “the new environmentalism,” which stresses the importance of nonhereditary factors in determining I.Q. So fascinating is this evidence — drawn from neuroscience and genetics, as well as from studies of educational interventions and parenting styles — that the author’s slightly academic prose style can be forgiven.

Intellectually, the I.Q. debate is a treacherous one. Concepts like heritability are so tricky that even experts stumble into fallacy. Moreover, the relevant data come mostly come from “natural experiments,” which can harbor subtle biases. When the evidence is ambiguous, it is all the easier for ideology to influence one’s scientific judgment. Liberals hope that social policy can redress life’s unfairness. Conservatives hold that natural inequality must be accepted as inevitable. When each side wants to believe certain scientific conclusions for extra-scientific reasons, skepticism is the better part of rigor.

Nisbett himself proceeds with due caution. He grants that I.Q. tests — which gauge both “fluid” intelligence (abstract reasoning skills) and “crystallized” intelligence (knowledge) — measure something real. They also measure something important: even within the same family, higher-I.Q. children go on to make more money than their less-bright siblings. [An important admission]

However, Nisbett bridles at the hereditarian claim that I.Q. is 75 to 85 percent heritable; the real figure, he thinks, is less than 50 percent [The most common estimation is two thirds so Nisbet is not being very original there. And even a 50% figure puts large contraints on what a person can achieve]. Estimates come from comparing the I.Q.’s of blood relatives — identical twins, fraternal twins, siblings — growing up in different adoptive families. But there is a snare here. As Nisbett observes, “adoptive families, like Tolstoy’s happy families, are all alike.” Not only are they more affluent than average, they also tend to give children lots of cognitive stimulation [I doubt those assertions. The point is one commonly made but I think the evidence for its effect is weak]. Thus data from them yield erroneously high estimates of I.Q. heritability. (Think: if we all grew up in exactly the same environment, I.Q. differences would appear to be 100 percent genetic.) This underscores an important point: there is no fixed value for heritability [A non sequitur. The value can be fixed even if it is hard to estimate]. The notion makes sense only relative to a population. Heritability of I.Q. is higher for upper-class families than for lower-class families, because lower-class families provide a wider range of cognitive environments, from terrible to pretty good. [An assertion only]

Even if genes play some role in determining I.Q. differences within a population, which Nisbett grants, that implies nothing about average differences between populations. The classic example is corn seed planted on two plots of land, one with rich soil and the other with poor soil. Within each plot, differences in the height of the corn plants are completely genetic. Yet the average difference between the two plots is entirely environmental. [True in theory but irrelevant in fact. There are studies going back many years where blacks and whites have sat in the same classrooms throughout their education but the IQ gap remains. And any claim that blacks are poorly fed is laughable. Their rate of obesity is higher than for whites]

Could the same logic explain the disparity in average I.Q. between Americans of European and of African descent? Nisbett thinks so. The racial I.Q. gap, he argues, is “purely environmental.” For one thing, it’s been shrinking: over the last 30 years, the measured I.Q. difference between black and white 12-year-olds has dropped from 15 points to 9.5 points. [Blacks mature faster so the IQ gap has long been smaller during childhood. The adult IQ gap remains the same] Among his more direct evidence, Nisbett cites impressive studies in population genetics. African-Americans have on average about 20 percent European genes, largely as a legacy of slavery. But the proportion of European genes ranges widely among individuals, from near zero to more than 80 percent. If the racial gap is mostly genetic, then blacks with more European genes ought to have higher I.Q.’s on average. In fact, they don’t. [But where do the white genes concerned come from? Mostly from the bottom of white society. "Race mixing" has been looked down on for most of America's history]

Nisbett is similarly skeptical that genetics could account for the intellectual prowess of Ashkenazi Jews, whose average I.Q. measures somewhere between 110 and 115. As for the alleged I.Q. superiority of East Asians over American whites, that turns out to be an artifact of sloppy comparisons; when I.Q. tests are properly normed, Americans actually score slightly higher than East Asians. [I concede that some of the figures for Asian IQ may be poorly representative but the enormous rate of achievement among Asian Americans certainly shows that Asians who emigrate are superior. We are on much firmer ground with Jewish IQ because of Israeli army figures. There is no doubt of Ashkenazi superiority -- if Jewish achievements alone did not tell you that]

If I.Q. differences are indeed largely environmental, what might help eliminate group disparities? The most dramatic results come from adoption. When poor children are adopted by upper-middle-class families, they show an I.Q. gain of 12 to 16 points [For a while. In adulthood their differences are small. And the children chosen for adoption by such families are probably not representative either]. Upper-class parents talk to their children more than working-class parents do. And there are subtler differences. In poorer black families, for example, children are rarely asked “known-answer questions” — that is, questions where the parents already know the right answer. (“What color is the elephant, Billy?”) Consequently, as Nisbett observes, the children are nonplussed by such questions at school. (“If the teacher doesn’t know this, then I sure don’t.”)

The challenge is to find educational programs that are as effective as adoption in raising I.Q. So far, Nisbett observes, almost all school-age interventions have yielded disappointing results [An important and entirely true admission]. But some intensive early-childhood interventions have produced enduring I.Q. gains, at a cost of around $15,000 per child per year. [Small gains achieved at great effort are consistent with the environmental component of IQ]. Yet, by the author’s reckoning, it would cost less than $100 billion a year to extend such programs to the neediest third of America’s preschoolers. The gain to society would be incalculable. [More likely to be negligible -- on the balance of the evidence]

Still, there are limits even to Nisbett’s optimism. Social policy can get rid of ethnic I.Q. gaps, he thinks, but “the social-class gap” in I.Q. “is never going to be closed.” I would frame the matter a little differently. Even if I.Q. inequality is inevitable, it may eventually become irrelevant. Over the last century, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, I.Q. scores around the world have been rising by three points a decade [That has now stopped and it did not affect the racial gap anyway]. Some of this rise, Nisbett argues, represents a real gain in intelligence. But beyond a certain threshold — an I.Q. of 115, say — there is no correlation between intelligence and creativity or genius [IQ has never correlated strongly with creativity -- largely because different sorts of creativity do not correlate with one-another]. As more of us are propelled above this threshold — and, if Nisbett is right, nearly all of us can be — the role of intelligence in determining success will come to be infinitesimal by comparison with such “moral” traits as conscientiousness and perseverance. [And law-abidingness?] Then we can start arguing about whether those are genetic.



Perhaps I should say a little more about the nutritional argument. It is briefly alluded to above but is very commonly mentioned in arguments of this sort.

There appear to be two adverse nutritional influences on IQ: Total calorie deprivation and micronutrient deprivation. The first is obviously irrelevant to American blacks so I will just note that the Dutch famine study showed it to have a eugenic effect if anything. It is mainly the children of smart people who survive a famine so the children concerned will on average tend to be brighter rather than dumber.

Micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficiency is more serious, though United Nations figures suggest that, even so, it accounts for only about 5 IQ points. If you give micronutrients to poor blacks in Africa, it does boost their average IQ by about that amount. The diet of poor blacks in Africa and the diet of American blacks are however quite different. Africans in Africa might see fried chicken only a few times in a lifetime. They mostly live on corn porridge ("mealie pap"). But critics nonetheless say that while African Americans eat plenty, they eat the "wrong" food: McDonalds for instance. But look at what is in a Big Mac meal: Meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which adds up to a mainstream Western diet. Some contend that there is too much salt and fat in such meals but that the meals provide a good range of micronutrients can hardly be doubted.

So there are no grounds for saying that the cause of lower average IQ in blacks is nutritional. They are not "seed that fell on stony ground".



There are various days celebrated as "Earth Day" by Greenies but Australia has an "Earth Hour", which seems to be catching on internationally. You are supposed to turn off all your electric lights during it. The hour occurs Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm. -- which has just passed in Australia. During it I, of course, made sure to turn on every light in my house. Because Australia is in a time zone almost a day ahead of America, however, my American readers will have to wait a little while for the pleasure of doing the same if the idea has caught on in their locality. Some rather jocular Australian skeptics argue that we should have a "Blackout Night" in mid-winter instead. See here about that.

Foreign aid to Africa: Bonuses to corrupt and tyrannical rulers? “Americans and the rest of the west must start to be outraged by the mismanagement of their donated tax money in Africa. Long after the African public woke up to the reality that western aids never work to uplift the continent from deep corruption and tyranny, this idea has recently started to resonate with some aid organizations and aid workers. Billions of aid dollars collected from western tax-payers are directly channeled to tyrannical and corrupt leaders in Africa.”

How FDR promoted price-gouging : “During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Americans desperately needed bargains. But President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed laws that forced businesses to charge above-market prices for everything. He made discounting a crime! FDR did this even though antitrust laws provided penalties for private individuals who acted in restraint of trade and charged above-market prices. These laws were passed by ‘progressives’ — his ideological brethren.”

Capitalism and tolerance: "About twenty years ago, I remember hearing my grandmother describing her response to a customer who’d badmouthed a lesbian couple who frequented the bar my parents and grandparents co-owned: ‘Their money’s as good as yours.’ A cliche, yes, but an uplifting one. It reminds us that the merchant pays a price for intolerance. It’s easy to indulge one’s petty prejudices in the voting booth, where the price for doing so is negligible. But every time a merchant turns away a customer, every time an employer turns away a candidate or loses him to a more tolerant competitor, he’s reminded of what his bigotry is costing him.”

States rebel against Washington: “There’s an old joke in South Carolina: Confederate President Jefferson Davis may have surrendered at the Burt-Stark mansion in Abbeville, S.C., in 1865, but the people of state Rep. Michael Pitts’s district never did. With revolutionary die-hards behind him, Mr. Pitts has fired a warning shot across the bow of the Washington establishment. As the writer of one of 28 state ’sovereignty bills’ … Pitts is at the forefront of a states’ rights revival, reasserting their say on everything from stem cell research to the Second Amendment. … Just as California under President Bush asserted itself on issues ranging from gun control to medical marijuana, a motley cohort of states … are presenting a foil for President Obama’s national ambitions. And they’re laying the groundwork for a political standoff over the 10th Amendment, which cedes all power not granted to Washington to the people.”

Dodgy British crime statistics again: "Ministers were last night caught up in an embarrassing new row over crime figures. The Ministry of Justice was forced to withdraw a set of already delayed sentencing statistics because of errors. They contained a series of mistakes over how many criminals were being sent to jail, rather than escaping with a fine or community punishment. For some crimes, the figures showed the number being jailed had fallen as low as 10 per cent, when in fact it had remained steady at around 40 per cent."

Useless Thai police: "Grandmother Linda Robertson reacted in disbelief today after Thai prosecutors officially told her that the Burmese 'pirates' who beat her husband to death with a hammer could not be prosecuted for murder. She was told that without a body, no such charge could be brought, even though the three Burmese men, who boarded the family yacht Mr Bean, had confessed to the death, and the boat was covered with her husband's blood. After testifying twice, recounting step-by-step how she heard her husband being murdered, and how she stepped in his blood before making a final escape, she said she was shocked by the court's decision."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)